What is wrong with these sentences in past perfect continuous? If so, how should this be corrected?

  • Both Samantha and Sarah had been waiting all day for a friend arrived.
  • Both Samantha and Sarah had not been waiting all day for a friend arrived.
  • Had both Samantha and Sarah been waiting all day for a friend arrived?

This is indeed an exercise question, but could not find the right answer.


There's a problem with those sentences, but it isn't the past perfect continuous. Here's how I would rewrite the first sentence, as I understand the intended meaning to be.

Both Samantha and Sarah had been waiting all day for a friend to arrive.

Samantha and Sarah were supposed to meet a friend at 8 AM yesterday, but the friend didn't show up. You found them at 5 PM, still waiting. They had been waiting all day.

You could change the other sentences the same way, but they would sound more contrived.

| improve this answer | |

The issue here is not about "past perfect continuous". What you have in "past perfect continuous" is good.

It is about the preposition "for". The preposition "for" has different meanings based on context.

If the phrase that follows "for" could be a complete sentence (a subject and a conjugated verb, "a friend arrived"), then "for" means "because". This is an uncommon usage and it would usually be better to use "because" instead of "for".

"Both Samantha and Sarah had been waiting all day because a friend arrived."

If you do not want "for" to mean "because", then what follows "for" should be some kind of noun phrase (no conjugated verb, "for a friend").

Alone, "a friend" is a simple noun phrase, but a complex noun phrase might also include an action or event.

To express an event or action as part of a noun phrase, the would-be subject is followed by the verb in some non-conjugated form (preceded by "to", or ending with "ing").

The difference between "waiting for a friend to arrive" and "waiting for a friend arriving" is small. I think "to arrive" would be more common.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    "waiting for a friend arriving" is unidiomatic in English and would almost never be encountered in speech or writing. Arriving would only be used as part of the past or present continuous, as in "waiting for a friend (who is/was) arriving" – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 20 '16 at 22:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.